Following up on my recent Colorado Potato Beetle post, here’s a picture of the feeding behavior I mentioned. The larvae are a bit out of focus, but trust me, they’re CPB larvae. While this is their most common feeding habit, you can also find the larvae singly, or in small groups and on the top or bottom of leaves. So if you don’t anything like the picture below, don’t assume you got all of the larvae.
Also, I took this picture on an eggplant so if you’re growing eggplant you need to check for the eggs & larvae on them, too.
Just in the last couple of days I’ve also spotted a number of other common pests.
Squash bugs (SB)
These can do a lot of damage and can be a bit hard to identify after they hatch because they look very different at various life stages. However, their eggs are quite distinctive.
The eggs can be removed and crushed as with the Colorado Potato Beetle eggs, but squash bug eggs stick to the leaves a lot harder and I often have to tear small pieces of leaf off to get all the eggs. While this isn’t ideal, its a lot less damage than the squash bugs will do.
Squash Vine Borer (SVB)
I hate this bug more than just about any of the others. Before I learned about it, it destroyed a couple of entire squash harvests. It’s the larva of a moth, which lays its eggs at squash nodes (squash nodes? what the #&%$* are squash nodes? I hear you cry.) which when they hatch burrow inside the stem and eat their way up the stem. This kills all of the plant past where the infestation occurs.
The way squashes grow is that the stem grows for a few inches and then at one spot a leaf, a flower, and various other structures will/can grow, This area is called a node.
Since the SVB adult plants it eggs at the nodes, you can bury the nodes with dirt which means the adult doesn’t know there’s node there and won’t lay eggs.
Now it’s hard to bury every node, but you don’t need to because when you bury the nodes it encourages the growth of new roots from the stem. If your plant does develop these adventitious roots in a number of spots then if part of the plant dies because of SVBs the the roots further up can take over and the plant survives. Notice I didn’t bury the node so deeply that I covered up the developing flower (the spiky thing in the middle just above the dirt). You just want to cover up the stem enough to confuse the SVB adult.
Even if you’ve never had problems I strongly suggest burying nodes. Since the borer is inside the stem it’s hard to notice the bug until the plant starts showing real damage and at then it could be too late to get the adventitious roots to grow.
I don’t have good picture of SVB damage at the moment, but hope to have one ready for you soon.